What was it like in the helicopter
flying you to care that could save
your life; bypassing death
on a wing and a prayer, you flew
with someone else in control
your beloved remaining on the ground
below unable to travel your life flight
over the snow-banked hills
passively silent as you whirred above.
Is this heaven? you asked.
The nurse replied, Heaven
is up ahead. You just hang on.
A drowsy numbness pains My sense,
as though of hemlock I had drunk.
A wild cherry sapling bends
toward the light, hard to come by
beneath the hemlocks, poisoners
of the soil in which they grow in-
hospitable to others implanted
below their canopy, who only bend
deeper and out from under, hungry
as they are for light. Rooting
for nutrients they don’t give up;
they thrive and survive by desire.
A raucous flock circles above
my writing house, then disappears
as quickly as it came.
Their noise gone, the sky quieted,
they having announced what
they came to announce, I couldn’t
grasp the meaning of the caws
but the sense was oracular:
I got that. The sense of foreboding
I understood. How much time?
remains unanswered, the directive
to focus in each moment
as it turns to the next,
filling it with small works
well and completely done.
No less than the body of flesh you feed
do you need to feed the imagination
which subsists on moments in pictures
impressed on the mind, and seen when
moving through the woods or sitting
by the still waters, listening, feeling,
wondering at––What was that?
The answer, the poem, however it comes;
whatever it looks like, you’ve touched
The Core. Write it. Speak it.
Who will go for Me?
Here I am. Send me.
Washing my hands with soap, I thought
not of COVID-19 but of Lady Macbeth
scrubbing, scrubbing the invisible blood
on her hands, but it won’t come off.
She surfaced from my subconscious
working overtime to deal with guilt
for having set up a D-CON trap
for the ever-present mice who inhabit
the ridgepole domain in this writing
house, reproducing and defecating
onto my books, desks, me, the floor
until I reached my limit––
I can’t do this anymore!
Even now they’re dying deaths
quick but painful at my hand,
my hands scrubbing, scrubbing
the mouse blood away, but it
won’t come off. It won’t come off.
Applauding alone in my writing house
when I read Heaney’s “Digging”
again. How many times need one
read a poem? There is no end,
no terminus of praise for the poem
well done. Well done.
I’m locked out of my house
locked out of my life as I’ve known it
with no identity and zero the number
that speaks to me of who I am and
who I am not: zero.
Standing alone in the unknown place
I shrug, This is okay. Whoever, whatever
I am, This is okay.
Bits of vegetable matter drop
from the ridgepole of my writing house
(where mice have built their leafy beds)
onto the desk where I write this poem
which is starting out as observation
and which may lead to contemplation
of our insignificance in a world
we investigate and decorate
but didn’t create, making much
of what we do, forgetting too often
just Who made this place at all
hospitable for the bits of matter we are.
Lesson for the day:
Don’t take anything for granted.
What’s given may be gone in a fledge
including a nest-full of four phoebes
increasingly crowding each other over
and nearly out of the crumbling nest
and now out of necessity fledged and
gone. There’s joy and vicarious pride
in the successful flight of the baby birds
from the days of their 1/2-inch eggs.
Plenty of room in the nest then
their faithful mother keeping them
warm, seeing them through a thunder-
storm up to today, to now, and into
the forest, the quartet testing their new-
found powers to sail on something they
don’t know is called the wind.
I open the door and leave the house,
leave a may-fly dithering at the window.
How has she survived into June,
temperatures down to 30 degrees?
I leave the door open, hoping
she might find her way to whatever
pond or field is home. Such urgency
I understand. The body tells her
the end is near, and she must find
the open door to where the family
of may-flies finally sleeps together.